Premier Rodney MacDonald’s announcement that the province will only purchase vehicles in the “top 20 percent of their class for fuel efficiency” has been met with adulation from both politicians and environmentalists alike. The premier assures Nova Scotians that this program will help the province reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
What the premier and his supporters fail to understand is that these actions are, sadly, too little, too late. Such a program is too small to make a significant impact on Nova Scotia’s greenhouse gas emissions and, given what is now known about the effects of anthropogenic emissions, much more significant reductions are needed by 2020.
To make matters worse, by focusing on greenhouse gas emissions, albeit an import issue, the premier is overlooking the problem that is about to take the province by storm: Nova Scotia’s overwhelming reliance on imported energy. The province is ill-prepared for rising world energy prices and production shortfalls.
If the premier was at all serious about reducing Nova Scotia’s greenhouse gas emissions—and for that matter, helping reduce our reliance on imported energy—he would have taken the politically unpopular decision of reducing provincial highway speeds to 90 kilometres per hour. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, this single action could reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to seven percent.
It will take more than five-second sound-bites from the premier if Nova Scotia is to weather the twin threats of climate change and security of energy supply.
Chronicle-Herald, Daily News, CBC Information Morning—18 September 2007